“Large publishers have marketed bundles of journals at a discount off of aggregated list price since the late 1990’s. The value proposition for publishers is a guaranteed revenue stream at a high overall dollar value. The perceived benefit for the institutions has been access to a large volume of journal titles, at a lower per-title price than ala carte purchasing would afford. Over time, however, the actual value of these “big deals” has grown less clear. Publishers have often raised the price of the packages by 5-15%, far outpacing library budgets. This has been justified, in part, by the addition of a growing number of specialized journal titles, launched in quick succession. Libraries have found a growing chunk of their budgets allocated to servicing these big deals, as well as their ability to curate resources and build collections most appropriate for their communities severely hampered.
What was once a no-fuss way to get a significant collection of journals at a discount off of list price has devolved into a restrictive agreement that limits financial and strategic flexibility. The “big deal” has often been compared to a cable or satellite TV package, an apt analogy insofar as the customer cannot choose to pass on content that is of no interest, with initial price breaks quickly giving way to locked-in increases. Much like the millions of consumers who have chosen to “cut the cord”, a growing number of libraries are electing to critically appraise these big deals by assessing their collections, the value for money they are receiving from these packages, and how they might more strategically spend their finite collections resources….”